Alumni go back to school for Career Fair

WAIMEA — Lita Saiki, an educational aide at Waimea High School, was excited.

“We increased this year in terms of the number of presenters,” Saiki said while watching a steady stream of Waimea High School students troop into the Clem Gomes Gym for the school’s Career and Health Fair.

“Last year we had over 40 vendors, but this year, it increased to 58 presenters,” Saiki said.

Participants ranged from employers looking for student help to those in the technology field who offered guidelines for students seeking careers in that field.

Additionally, Kaua’i Community College leaders had their counselors as well as representatives of several of their departments on hand to show students what their Puhi campus can offer beyond high school.

Among the sea of students and browsers, Randall Francisco, president of the Kaua’i Chamber of Commerce, was seen chatting at one of the tables.

Francisco said that, while the Chamber wasn’t an official presenter at the event, his goal was to get to meet some of the people presenting, as well as get some students’ perspectives on various community issues.

He was excited to learn that the 16 Waimea students from the Culinary Arts Academy was preparing lunch for the vendors, and was anxious to get a first-hand experience on how these events help students.

Allen Kapali, one of the Kaua’i Fire Department representatives, noted, “This is good for the students. When we were in high school, we never had events like this to help us choose what we wanted to do. This is really good. We’ve had a lot of people stopping, trying to get an idea of what is involved in what we do.”

At the Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort & Spa booth, chef Romel Begonia had his associates, Maurice Laiz, Robert Kanahele, and Kainoa Raposas, join him in offering some desserts to visiting students and vendors.

Begonia and his associates are all graduates of Waimea High School, and said they were proud to come back to show students the work they do in the community.

Chef Orly Yadao was busy creating dessert sculptures using sugar, one of which ended up going to Vice Principal Nely Caberto’s office following the event.

Jessica Rita was another Waimea High School graduate who came back to help with the Kaua’i Community College’s culinary-arts booth that was offering up California rolls to students and vendors alike.

While waiting in the lunch line, she was excited to be able to be served by students she knew while she was a Menehune student.

Shen Balmidiano, Big Save’s payroll administrator, said she is also a graduate of Waimea High School.

“I needed a part-time job when I was in high school, and started working for Big Save as a cashier,” Balmidiano said. “When I was at KCC, they moved me to a clerk position, and now, I’m their payroll administrator.”

Among her duties, Balmidiano helps recruit workers, and during the Career Day at Waimea, she said, “We even conducted on-site interviews.”

Rhonda Camara, a clerk in the Big Save human resources department, had a tale similar to Balmidiano’s. Camara graduated from Kaua’i High School.

Janos Sanu, a translator, said he was helping to spread the word among students about the intrigue involved in translating.

Sanu works with about 200 different languages, and has traveled to 61 countries around the world, noting, “On almost every trip, someone else paid.”

The field of vendors were well-cared for by about 15 students volunteers, explained Saiki. Those students ranged from sophomores to seniors, and, according to Saiki, were hand-picked for the task.

Candice Klein, a sophomore, was one of the student volunteers who was distributing fruit salads to vendors.

Klein said she was volunteered by her health teacher, and was having fun as a volunteer.

“This is fun. You get to meet a lot of people,” she said as she slipped away to pass out more fruit cups.

Lunch for the guests and vendors was prepared by students in the Waimea High School Culinary Arts Academy, under the guidance of Karyn Poulton.

The 16 students had recently visited the KCC culinary-arts program in preparation for the Career Day event, and following that tour as well as several job-shadow outings to the college, had put together a lunch of soup, sandwiches, and dessert offerings.

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